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In ancient Greece, violent internal conflict between bordering neighbors
and war with foreign invaders was a way of life
and Greeks were considered premier warriors
Most Greek city-states surrounded themselves with massive defensive walls
for added protection
Sparta in its prime was a different story
finding walls unnecessary
when it had an army of the most feared warriors in the ancient world
So what was Sparta doing differently than everyone else
to produce such fierce soldiers?
To answer that question, we turn to the written accounts of that time
There are no surviving written accounts from Spartans themselves
as it was forbidden for Spartans to keep records
so we have to rely on those of non-Spartan ancient historians
like Herodotus, Thucydides, and Plutarch
These stories may be embellished
and depict Sparta at the apex of its power,
so take them with a grain of salt
For Spartans, the purpose for their existence was simple:
to serve Sparta
On the day of their birth
elder Spartan leaders examined every newborn
The strong healthy babies were considered capable of fulfilling this purpose
and the others may have been left on Mount Taygetus to die
Every Spartan, boy or girl, was expected to be physically strong mentally sharp and emotionally resilient.
And it was their absolute duty to defend and promote Sparta at all costs
So in the first years of their lives
children were raised to understand that their loyalty belonged first to Sparta
and then to family
This mindset probably made it easier for the Spartan boys
who upon turning seven, were sent to the agoge
a place with one main purpose:
to turn a boy into a Spartan warrior
through thirteen years of relentless, harsh, and often brutal training.
The Spartans prized physical perfection above all else
and so the students spent a great deal of their time learning how to fight
To ensure resilience in battle
boys were encouraged to fight among themselves
and bullying, unlike today, was acceptable
In order to better prepare the boys for the conditions of war
the boys were poorly fed
sometimes even going days without eating
They also were given little in the way of clothing
so that they could learn to deal with different temperatures
Spartan boys were encouraged to steal in order to survive
but if they were caught
they would be disciplined
not because they stole, but because they were caught in the act
During the annual contest of endurance
in a religious ritual known as the diamastigosis,
teenage boys were whipped in front of an altar at the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia
It was common for boys to die on the altar of the goddess
Fortunately, not everything was as brutal as that
Young Spartans were also taught how to read
write
and dance
which taught them graceful control of their movements
and helped them in combat
While the responsibilities for the girls of Sparta were different
the high standards of excellence
and expectation to serve Sparta with their lives remained the same
Spartan girls lived at home with their mothers as they attended school
Their curriculum included the arts
music
dance
reading
and writing
And to stay in peak physical condition, they learned a variety of sports
such as discus
javelin
and horseback riding
In Sparta, it was believed that only strong and capable women
could bear children that would one day become strong and capable warriors
To all Spartans, men and women
perhaps the most important lesson from Spartan school
was allegiance to Sparta
To die for their city-state was seen as the completion of one's duty to Sparta
Upon their death
only men who died in battle and women who died in childbirth
were given tombstones
In the eyes of their countrymen, both died so that Sparta could live
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【TED-Ed】This is Sparta: Fierce warriors of the ancient world - Craig Zimmer

38791 Folder Collection
韓澐 published on August 3, 2016
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